By Matt Calamia
Despite not making the big club, many would consider Oscar Lindberg’s first training camp with the New York Rangers a successful one, as he was among the final players cut by Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff.
“It was a good experience,” Lindberg, 22, told BlueshirtsUnited.com. “A lot of new things for me. I tried to learn from everything. It was a good experience and if I get a call up, I’ll have a better clue [of what to expect in the NHL]."
In his first season in North America, the native of Skelleftea, Sweden has posted three goals and six assists in 14 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, as he continues to adjust to a new style of hockey in North America.
“The ice surface is quite a bit different. It’s taken a while to adjust, but I think I’m getting better and better. I like playing on the smaller ice surface,” Lindberg said, adding that more happens on the smaller rink, and that his speed and quickness benefits from that.
Early on, Lindberg centered a line with Danny Kristo and Chris Kreider, but has since been moved to a line with wingers Arron Asham and Marek Hrivik.
The change has allowed Lindberg to skate with players who possess different skill sets, with Kristo being a scorer and the veteran Asham being more of a grinder, the latter of which Lindberg said he could “learn a lot” from.
Recently, a familiar face for Lindberg was added to the Hartford lineup, when forward Jesper Fast was sent to the Wolf Pack after appearing in eight games with the Rangers.
Lindberg said the two have known each other for several seasons through playing together in international competitions for Team Sweden, and became closer this past summer during the Rangers’ prospect camp in July, as well as the Traverse City Tournament in September, and the subsequent training camp.
Lindberg said seeing Fast play with the Rangers got his own spirits up.
“When you see a guy almost in the same position as you are, you know there’s a chance,” Lindberg stated, before adding that he’s asked Fast a few “basic questions” about his time in New York. “That’s what you look for: a call up. You get motivated.”
Internationally, Lindberg has had success playing for Sweden, most recently at the 2011 World Junior Championship tournament, where he notched two goals and two assists in six games, as Sweden finished fourth in the tournament.
A bigger tournament, the Olympic Games, is about three months away, and while Lindberg's growth with the Wolf Pack is vital, the allure of the wearing the yellow, white and blue on the biggest stage of them all is undeniable.
“Just playing for your national team is a big honor,” Lindberg said. “But, my focus is on Hartford right now. To get a chance in the Olympics, I have to be [in the NHL], but it’s an honor to represent your country any time.”